The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced hours ago that they will be stepping down from their roles as senior members of the Royal Family. They will no longer receive funding from the Sovereign Grant and will become financially autonomous individuals, which is the primary reason for the decision. “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," the announcement stated.
Under the current framework, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are prohibited from earning professional incomes of their own. The Sovereign Grant funds all their official activities in support of Her Majesty The Queen, as well as refurbishments of their official residence, Frogmore Cottage. Although the Sovereign Grant only covers five percent of their Office expenses, the two prefer to be "released" from this financial tie. A detailed account of the financial implications of this decision is stated in the official website.
This "new working model" allows them to continue supporting the Queen and advancing their charitable efforts while making professional incomes of their own. Aside from the financial aspect, this turnaround will also be changing their time in the spotlight, as it also involves a "revised media approach" wherein the two can control which media outlets to share their engagements with.
This decision follows recent issues that the two have had with the media. Back in October, Meghan Markle sued British tabloid Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter addressed to her estranged father. To which, Prince Harry later on stated was a form of "bullying" and reminded him of the time his mother, the late Princess Diana, suffered from public scrutiny. "I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person," he said.
Aside from the financial independence that they "look forward to," the Duke and Duchess will be advancing their philanthropic efforts through a new mechanism, while continuing their service to their current patronages. This will be "a charitable entity that will not only help complement these efforts, but also advance the solutions the world needs most."
Despite the positive note of their official announcement, it seems that this decision has caused a rift with the Buckingham Palace, which later on released a statement: "Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
According to The Telegraph, the Royal Family, including Her Majesty The Queen, was only made aware of this decision "very recently." The Queen is reportedly "disappointed," and staunch royal reporters are saying this is a bad time for her to receive the news, after her son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, stepped down from his own royal duties following the Jeffrey Epstein controversy. Other senior members of the Royal Family are said to be "hurt" by the decision as well.
This new independent framework allows them to retain their titles while gaining more control of their personal lives, and it is largely about family matters as well. They will be splitting their time between the U.K. and North America. "This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter..."
Check out the full announcement below: